Easily Track Your Expenses With Next

There are multiple theories on how to best track spending. Many people employ budgeting, while others choose to use alternative methods such as the envelope system. Personally, I’ve always found it best to simply keep track of my spending by using a checkbook app (I’m currently using Moni). But the main problem with most of these methods, especially my preferred method, is that most people simply don’t know what they’re using their money to buy.

Sure, I know in the immediate present that I purchased a tank of gas for $45, but how much am I spending on gas a month? Every once in awhile, I’ll break down my spending habits to get a bigger picture, and I’m always amazed on where I can cut costs. The problem is, it’s an extremely tedious task that I wish were a lot more simple. Developers noidentity hope to make big picture expense tracking very simple with their new app, Next.

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Background

You may be familiar with noidentity, the creators of another popular finance app called MoneyBook. Whereas MoneyBook includes a fair amount of features that allow for more in-depth money management, Next is intended to be a very simple method to keep track of categories (e.g. food, car, clothes) of spending.

If Next's simplicity doesn't fit your needs, MoneyBook may an app of interest to you.

If Next’s simplicity doesn’t fit your needs, MoneyBook may an app of interest to you.

A Familiar Design

I’m rather fond of Next’s design, which should be familiar to all iOS users since it’s a one-page grid of icons with rounded corners (pretty meta). When you first start using the app, all the icons are monotone, but when you add an expense the corresponding icon turns blue. Icons turn a darker shade of blue as you continue to add more expenses — the darker the blue, the more money you’ve spent in that category.

Elegant and simple are both words many would use to describe Next's design.

Elegant and simple are both words many would use to describe Next’s design.

Similar to rearranging apps in iOS, you can rearrange the icons by tapping and holding one to select it, and then drag the icon to your desired destination. After entering expenses for a week or so, I ended up moving the icons so the all the blue icons were at the top (just a suggestion).

Why hunt for your most used categories when you can easily arrange them at the top?

Why hunt for your most used categories when you can easily arrange them at the top?

Entering Your Expenses

To enter an expense, begin by tapping on a button with an icon that matches best. A keypad will pop up, prompting you to enter the amount of your expense. By default, all expenses are entered for the current day, but you can change the date by tapping the Today button. When you’re finished, tap the checkmark button.

Entering an expense takes a matter of seconds to complete.

Entering an expense takes a matter of seconds to complete.

If you’re having difficulty finding the right icon to use, you can change a button’s icon by tapping and holding the button and then tapping the gears icon in the upper-left corner. This is a feature that was made available in version 1.1, and is a very welcomed one as I often had difficulty finding icons that corresponded with my purchases.

You can choose from a library of 64 icons.

You can choose from a library of 64 icons.

Expenses & Statistics

When you flick left from the Home screen you’ll transition to the Expense screen, which displays all of your previously entered expenses. The top navigation bar allows you to choose which month you wish to view, and expenses are listed in groups by individual days. One item I found vexing is the inability to edit expenses. If you swipe left on an expense, you’re given an option to delete it, but you can’t change the entered amount. So, if you make a mistake, you’ll have to delete and enter the expense once again.

You can quickly jump to a specific day by tapping and holding on the right edge of the screen and then sliding up or down.

You can quickly jump to a specific day by tapping and holding on the right edge of the screen and then sliding up or down.

Flicking right from the Home screen transitions the app into the Statistics page — the most important feature of Next. Utilizing bar graphs, each category is displayed from top to bottom from high to low (only categories that you’ve used will be displayed). Tapping on a category’s bar will display a history graph for said category, and the statistics are specific to the week, month or year option you’ve toggled. I’m very much enthralled by the manner noidentity chose to represent spending statistics, since it’s incredibly easy for anyone to grasp the data they’re being presented.

Next's simple approach to presenting spending statistics is what makes the app shine.

Next’s simple approach to presenting spending statistics is what makes the app shine.

What’s Ahead

Many users on Twitter and the App Store have made a multitude of requests for Next — many of which would defeat the point of Next’s simplicity if instituted. However, noidentity has responded to some of those suggestions, stating that they’re looking into features like the ability to export data, add notes to expenses (+1 from me on this request) and the possibility of adding iPad optimization with data syncing support (it’ll probably be awhile before we see that last one).

The Bottom Line

I’ve been using Next since it launched in late February, and I very much enjoy the ease in which I can track my spending and view statistics that allow me to look at the big picture. As I mentioned previously, I use a checkbook app to keep tabs of my balances, which I’ll continue to do while using Next since it’s not a tool to track balances.

Though it may seem like a burden to employ multiple tools in such a manner, I feel no such issue whenever I enter my expenses. Why? Next is really fun to use. Between the design eye candy and extremely enjoyable sound effects, I actually look forward to entering an expense. Now that’s an amazing feat for a finance app.


Summary

Easily track your day-to-day expenses to get a big picture of your spending habits.

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